For the past three years, spoken word artists have a mic with their name on it at Hitsville U.S.A. This month, our Motown Mic series will continue to attract dozens of poets and guests from all over metro-Detroit. The Series honors Motown’s historic Black Forum Label by allowing spoken word artists of today to have a platform for thought and expression.
At the end of this dynamic event series, Motown Mic crowns a winner every year who wins a $1000 cash prize and visibility opportunities. We caught up with last year’s winner Tamyra Rene, a spoken word artist influenced by the rich heritage of Motown. Read on to learn more about her life-changing experience.
How long have you been a spoken word artist?
I have been a spoken word artist a little over 10 years. I started back in high school at the Detroit School of Arts. Through mentorship at the Art Leagues of Michigan and involvement in the City Wide Poets, I honed my gift.
What motivated you to participate in the Motown Mic series?
I found out about the series on social media. My brother and I decided to go as spectators to enjoy the performances. There aren’t many poetry events in the city, and we thought it would be a great show. The performers were amazing, and I was in awe of the talent that performed. My brother was inspired to perform, and the next thing you know he was peer pressuring me to get on the stage. I ended up placing the first night of the series! I did not even intend to participate.
What does the Motown Mic series mean to you as a Detroit artist?
It means a lot. Everybody has their own movement. Motown is Detroit’s. I think most people forget that. So, having events like Motown Mic is important because it shows that history is still important. It helps remind us how rich Detroit is in culture. We hear so many negative things about Detroit, but we have so many great things to offer like Motown Mic.
Why is Motown Mic important to the community?
A lot of events that feature performances locally don’t have the depth that Motown Mic does. Spoken word is a very rich type of performance. As artists, we view the world differently and share that with audiences who need to hear what we have to say. Platforms like Motown Mic give spoken word artists the chance to knowledge-build with the community. It brings people together to entertain them but also inform them. We need more platforms like Motown Mic.
What was the most memorable moment from last year’s series?
Nothing compared to interacting with all of the other spoken word artists. Everyone was equally talented. Being around artists who are so gifted was inspiring. A lot of them were people I looked up to.
How has Motown Mic changed your life?
Prior to the competition I really wasn’t performing my spoken word. Motown Mic got me back in the habit of writing and performing. It showed me that I had something that I needed to say and people are willing to listen. It was a confidence booster for me. It also motivated me to start my own projects like my upcoming spoken word album Poetry N Melodies and a mentorship program for young Detroiters. I hope one day to make a big of an impact as Motown did in my own way.
What advice would you give an artist planning to compete this year?
I would tell them to have fun and be different. Diversify yourself from everyone else competing. When I was competing in Motown Mic, I researched everyone performing. I looked at what they did and how I could be my most authentic self. I enjoyed pointing out the positive and focusing on the legacy of Motown. That gave me an advantage.
How can people connect with you?
Facebook: TaMyra Rene
Tamyra’s reflection is just one of many stories about the power of our Motown Mic series. Now it’s your turn to get involved in one of the Museum’s most acclaimed events. Join us at Hitsville U.S.A. for Motown Mic 2016 during four Fridays in April. Whether you will be gracing the mic with your words or soaking in the poetry of those performing, it will be an unforgettable experience.